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Animal Care and Management


This page provides high level information and data on the Animal Care and Management industry. The Animal Care and Management industry can be described as having eight sub-sectors: Veterinary Services, Animal Breeding Services, Pet and Companion, Assistance and Therapy Animal Services, Animal Technology Services, Captive Wildlife Operations, Animal Control Services, Wildlife Care and Rehabilitation Services and Non-veterinary Health and Welfare Services.

Please visit Veterinary Nursing for more specific information and data on that specific sector.

Please visit Animal Services for information and data relating to the following sectors:

  • Animal breeding services
  • Pet and companion, assistance and therapy animal services
  • Animal technology services
  • Captive wildlife operations
  • Animal control cervices
  • Wildlife care and rehabilitation services
  • Non-veterinary health and welfare services.

Nationally recognised training for Animal Care and Management is delivered under the ACM – Animal Care and Management Training Package.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

In 2022, there were 37,300 people employed in the Veterinary Services sector, 19,600 employed in the Parks and Gardens Operations sector with employment levels in both industries increasing significantly since 2002. Employment in Veterinary Services is projected to decrease to 31,500 by 2025, while Parks and Gardens Operations is projected to increase to 24,500 over the same period. Hunting and Trapping has maintained a low level of employment since peaking in 2010 at around 3,600 and is projected to be approximately 500 in 2025.

In addition, census data shows that there were approximately 3,500 people employed in horse farming in 2016, slightly down from approximately 3,700 in 2006.

Program enrolments in Animal Care and Management-related qualifications declined between 2017 and 2020 before increasing to around 21,930 in 2021 although this is still below the 2017 figure. Program completions have fluctuated over the last 5 years, peaking in 2018 at approximately 7,890, then falling in 2019 and again in 2020 to around 7,490, and then rising again to just under 7,750 in 2021. 

Between 2017 and 2021 the vast majority of Animal Care and Management-related subjects were delivered as part of a nationally recognised program. In 2021, less than 1% of Animal Care and Management-related subjects were not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program.

Please visit the respective pages for more specific employment and training data on Veterinary Nursing and other Animal Services sectors.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlighted the following priority skills for the industry:

  • Companion and therapy animal skills
  • Pet grooming skills
  • Captive wildlife animal skills
  • Compassion fatigue skills
  • Ethical animal use skills
  • Animal awareness and behaviour skills
  • Emotional intelligence of animal skills.

In addition, the top generic skills identified for the Animal Care and Management industry include:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy skills
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Customer service / Marketing skills
  • Managerial / Leadership skills
  • Communication / Collaboration including virtual collaboration / Social intelligence skills.

The Animal Care and Management IRC's 2020 Skills Forecast highlights that the public's interest and concern about animal welfare, care and management continues to escalate, driven by major events in Australia, including COVID-19, major bushfires, drought and concern over the welfare of horses' post work or sport involvement. The roles of pets, companion and assistance animals as a central component of human health and welfare has more recognition now, both through formal research and public attitudes. As a result, industry services are also expanding into new fields of care for animals, and current services are experiencing market growth.

Throughout 2020, the Animal Care and Management IRC continued work on two key projects. The initial case for change for the Exhibited Animal Care and Marine Wildlife Project was predicated on the increased demand for services in both exhibited animal care and marine rescue. Animals in exhibited environments require expert care, with job tasks varying depending on the size and type of the animal and its environment. Responding to marine wildlife events can be extremely dangerous and requires very specialised training to ensure safety and to meet animal welfare standards. It is important that these sectors are supported by up to date skills standards, so that consistent high level care can continue to be provided. The case for endorsement was approved by the AISC in February 2021. Key outcomes of the project include:

  • The qualification ACM30X20 Certificate III in Wildlife and Exhibited Animal Care was revised to reflect current industry practices, terminology and skill gaps, and the title was changed to reflect current industry terminology.
  • The Certificate IV in Captive Animals was superseded by the Certificate IV in Animal Facility Management, with a specialisation in wildlife and exhibited animal facilities.
  • Eight new skill sets were developed to address skills needs, including large whale disentanglement, animal welfare management, zoological horticulture, exhibited animal visitor experience, orphan native wildlife care, exhibited animal behaviour and training, species population management, and marine animal stranding.
  • Fifteen captive animal units and 10 species specific units were updated to provide greater focus on animal welfare, enrichment, habitat design and behavioural conditioning to support the mental and physical health of animals.
  • Five units were developed for marine animal incident management, describing the unique skills required for responding to animal incidents in a marine environment, including entanglements, strandings and pollution events.

People in Australia place a great deal of value on the health and happiness of their pets and assistance animals, recognising how this can in turn benefit their own wellbeing. As the importance of pets in our homes and communities increases, including the use of assistance animals, people are looking to a broader range of options to keep their pets healthy and happy. This is causing demand for more skilled workers in areas such as pet grooming, animal health care, animal training, animal-assisted services and animal regulation and management. Job roles in these areas rely on similar foundational skills to care for animal wellbeing, while also requiring specialist expertise to perform tasks relevant to each field. The Pet Care and Animal Training Project arose because most qualifications related to Animal Attendants and Trainers, pet grooming and styling, companion animals and captive animals had not been fully reviewed since 2010 and industry had indicated that they were no longer considered fit for purpose and needed to be updated to reflect the full breadth of the sector and the changing ways animals are valued. The case for endorsement was approved by the AISC in February 2021. Key outcomes of the project include:

  • The Certificate IV in Animal Care Facility Management was developed to replace the existing Certificate IV in Captive Animals and Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services. The revised qualification reflects the skills and knowledge for team leaders, supervisors, and specialist technical roles within an animal care facility, including companion animal and exhibited and wildlife environments.
  • The Certificate IV in Animal Behaviour and Training was developed to offer an entry level qualification for animal trainers and/or animal behaviour practitioners working with a specific species, or across a range of species and workplaces.
  • The Certificate IV in Animal Control and Regulation was revised and retitled to Certificate IV in Animal Regulation and Management. It was updated to include specialisations for investigations, animal holding facilities/shelters, animal management education, and rural and remote communities, and reflect current work practices and community values.
  • The Certificate III in Animal Studies, Certificate III in Companion Animal Services and Certificate III in Pet Grooming were merged to create a Certificate III in Animal Care Services. This qualification can be undertaken as a general qualification or individuals can select to specialise in one or two of the following areas: animal care, pet grooming or customer service.
  • The Certificate I in Animal Studies was revised and retitled to Certificate I in Animal Care Industry Pathways to better reflect its outcomes and users – many of whom are learners with special needs and/or people seeking community engagement, doing animal care work activities undertaken under close supervision.
  • Forty-one units of competency were revised and 11 units developed, to support skills across animal-assisted services, grooming, and behaviour and training.
  • Two skills sets were revised for microchipping dogs and cats and promoting animal health in remote communities.
  • Six skill sets were developed that cover grooming, animal shelter work, animal assisted services, animal breeding and animal management coordination in remote communities.

The Animal Care and Management IRC's 2021 Skills Forecast highlights two key areas with specific skill requirements – animal-assisted services and animal incident management.

Multiple sectors in the animal-assisted services industry are now becoming established. The skill needs in each sector varies depending on the service, the professional practitioner and the species of animal used. Different combinations of skills are required for training different animals, different tasks and being responsive to different conditions, including intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive and psychosocial conditions. Distinct sectors have emerged, requiring skills for training animals to assist with:

  • Animal-Assisted Therapy: services delivered by qualified allied health professionals such as counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, community health workers, social workers, and trauma specialists.
  • Animal-Assisted Learning: services provided by educators and coaches, involving an animal in a learning environment assisting an individual or group to develop skills, tools and strategies to achieve specific learning outcomes.
  • Animal-Assisted Activities: an animal with its trained handler or animal team delivering informal therapeutic visits to people in workplaces, hospitals, aged care facilities, and schools to contribute to wellbeing.
  • Assistance Animals (usually dogs): animals trained to support people with impairments to participate in and access various aspects of personal and public life. Dogs are trained to perform specific tasks related to their owner’s special needs, such as vision or hearing impairment, mobility impairment, medical conditions (diabetes, seizures, asthma), psychiatric and physiological conditions.

To improve services for people with disabilities using assistance animals, the Commonwealth, state and territory governments are working together to develop options for a nationally consistent approach to the regulation and accreditation of assistance animals. The establishment of formal approaches to developing the capabilities of ‘assistance animal trainers’ is considered by stakeholders as a key enabler of this process.

There is a clear need for additional skills in managing animals during disasters because of past shortcomings:

  • Disaster planning needs to extend beyond the protection of human life and property to the broader social environment, including companion and working animals.
  • Skilled animal care professionals and volunteers are needed to respond to natural disasters, particularly bushfires. Relying on insufficiently trained response workers and untrained individuals to do the best they can to rescue, assist and care for animals is not sufficient.
  • Bushfire evacuation protocols and procedures need to be developed to ensure appropriate support is provided for people and their animals, including a process for animal registration at evacuation centres and effective identification of overflow sites when preferred facilities are at capacity.
  • Boarding kennels need to be prepared for various eventualities during a bushfire emergency, including their own evacuation or sudden influxes of animals needing food, medicines, treatment and places to rest. With adequate planning and staff training, local boarding kennels and shelters could be used as evacuation centres, while existing evacuation centres would be enabled to cater for people bringing their domestic animals.

In 2021, the Animal Care and Management IRC undertook work on three projects:

The Horse Care Project is focused on strengthening safety skills across all environments in which people interact with horses, capturing the full breadth of skills required for those who work alongside horses either directly or indirectly, and supporting flexibility of delivery and career pathways throughout equine related qualifications. The qualifications will be updated to promote movement between schools and VET and support learners from entry level positions through to more niche expert roles. Skill sets will be updated and developed to support skills for emergency shoe replacement, coordination of horse care tasks and workers, and safety skills across a range of environments, including while instructing learners, while handling horses, while transporting horses, and working around horses. Units will be revised and developed to strengthen safety skills and ensure flexibility of use across different job roles involving horses.

The Small Companion Animal Incident Management Project aims to provide a national approach to the skills standards for responding to incidents involving small companion animals. The project arose from the 2019–2020 bushfires which highlighted the important role of animal facility workers, emergency service workers and evacuation centres in supporting injured and displaced animals. With many evacuation centres overwhelmed, the need for revised evacuation protocols, procedures for accommodating companion animals and staff training were recognised as essential.

An improved understanding of the benefits of assistance dogs has seen an increased number of people accessing them for support, for a broader range of conditions. The expansion of assistance dogs into fields covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and other health streams has also increased demand for greater regulation and skilled delivery of assistance animal training. The Trainers of Assistance Dogs Project has been developed in response to industry calls for nationally recognised training so that workers possess the core skills to prepare dogs for a variety of purposes and peoples' needs. Not for profit organisations such as Assistance Dogs Australia and Guide Dogs Australia have long waiting lists, which has seen more people access the services of independent dog trainers. It is important trainers performing this work possess the skills to work with dogs and people to achieve the best outcomes. Industry subject matter experts will be consulted to define the skills required to train dogs for different environments and tasks, as well as to train people in how to care for their assistance dog.

COVID-19 impact

According to the Animal Care and Management IRC's 2021 Skills Forecast, COVID-19 has disrupted every sector of the Australian Animal Care and Management industry.

Veterinary services were classified as an 'essential service' following the outbreak of COVID-19 and associated restrictions, and businesses were permitted to remain open during mandated lockdowns. Many veterinary clinics introduced new customer interaction protocols ('COVID Safe plans'), including social distancing, customers waiting for appointments outside (e.g. in car parks), telephone and online video consultations, and home visits during this period. This helped to sustain veterinary services for pet owners and industry clients, such as animal exhibitors, though operators who normally cross state borders to provide services were affected, for example, providers of equine dentistry in rural and regional areas.

As measures to control the spread of COVID-19 were implemented by state and national governments, wildlife sanctuaries, zoos and animal hospitals were among the first businesses to experience a sharp decline in revenue, which would normally be generated through public admissions (especially international tourists), school visits, field days and corporate events. In April 2020, the Federal Government announced a Funding Lifeline for Australia's Zoos and Aquariums – a $94.6 million support package to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis. The funding was to assist exhibiting zoos and aquariums with the fixed operational costs associated with caring for their animals, while also helping to ensure Australian zoos and aquariums remained viable and ready to welcome visitors when restrictions were eased. Further, smaller amounts, of state and federal government funding were made available during 2020 and 2021.

Pets and the Pandemic: A Social Research Snapshot of Pets and People in the COVID-19 Era indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions may have created an opportunity for Australians to introduce a previously desired pet into the family, rather than the pandemic being the reason itself for acquiring a pet. For instance, working from home arrangements have provided the opportunity to spend time with a young pet. In a time of significant uncertainty and reduced social interaction, Australians have turned to pet ownership – creating the biggest boom Australia has ever seen in pet ownership. Owners reported that pets had a positive impact on their lives throughout the pandemic because they provided joy, comfort and were good for mental health. With pet ownership now at record levels, policy makers must consider the needs of companion animals and their owners. This should range from rental, strata and body corporate regulations to animals in public places, transport access and holiday accommodation. The pandemic also showed that pet animal welfare must be explicitly protected as an essential service/activity.

According to the Animal Care and Management IRC's 2021 Skills Forecast, animal shelters and carers were inundated with requests to adopt or foster pets as people sought company and exercise companions during state-regulated lockdowns. As COVID-19 restrictions eased, there was a surge in demand for companion animal services, including for pet groomers, trainers, exercisers and day care facilities.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, vocational education and training providers had to adapt their course delivery to encompass a combination of remote and flexible delivery methods. For example, at Kangan Institute this included easy to navigate online tutorials, interactive learning (using a mix of live demonstrations and the ability to connect with classmates and teachers for support) as well as face-to-face practical assessments and work placements – where safe and practical to implement. Students therefore required access to the internet and a computer to undertake their courses. This sort of flexible model allowed students to continue to study in a safe, guided and fully supported manner with continued access to all learning, personal and wellbeing supports.

The above Skills Forecast highlights that for many vocational education and training students, COVID-19 restrictions meant participating online from home, which created additional challenges associated with time, resources and connectivity (especially in rural, regional and remote areas), issues which were often intensified when family members were also learning and working from home. As a result, there have been greater rates of non-completion due to dissatisfaction with, or logistical barriers hampering, training and assessment delivery.

Mandatory work placements remained strongly supported by industry, especially for learning that involved caring for and handling animals, due to these experiences being irreplicable in virtual environments. Despite COVID-19-related delivery challenges, work placements for Veterinary Nursing students were generally easier to secure due to employers’ increasing receptiveness to facilitating learners’ development (especially as learners helped to ease operational pressures). Furthermore, a high proportion of learners secured employment while on work placement due to the positive relationships developed and workplace experience gained. This resulted in RTO feedback that mandatory workplace hours have resulted in positive outcomes, with completion rates increasing.

The National Skills Commission (NSC) report The Shape of Australia's Post COVID-19 Workforce analysed the impact of the pandemic on Australia's labour market, through scenario modelling, and profiles NSC's resilient occupations framework. The top 20 most resilient occupations are listed and at number 19 is Animal Attendants and Trainers.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.


IRC and Skills Forecasts

Animal Care and Management IRC


Relevant research

Animal Studies Courses – Kangan Institute

Communication Challenges Experienced by Veterinary Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Australian Veterinary Journal – pre-print article first published online October 2021 – A. Quain, S. Mullan and M. P. Ward

COVID-19 Information – Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)

Examining National Planning Principles for Animals in Australian Disaster Response – Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Volume 36, Number 4, 2021 – Joshua Trigg, Melanie Taylor, Jacqueline Mills and Ben Pearson

Funding Lifeline for Australia's Zoos and Aquariums – Joint media release by the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and the Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Welfare of Animals in Australia – Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Volume 7, Article 621843, 2021 – Jacqueline Baptista, Dominique Blache, Keren Cox-Witton, Nicola Craddock, Toni Dalziel, Nicolas de Graaff, Jill Fernandes, Ronda Green, Helen Jenkins, Sarah Kahn, Deborah Kelly, Mariko Lauber, Shane K. Maloney, Bridget Peachey, Ian Rodger, Jeremy Skuse, Alan J. Tilbrook, Frederick Rohan Walker, Kelly Wall and Sarah Zito

Pets and the Pandemic: A Social Research Snapshot of Pets and People in the COVID-19 Era – Animal Medicines Australia (AMA)

The Shape of Australia's Post COVID-19 Workforce – National Skills Commission (NSC)


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Animal Care Australia (ACA)

Animal Ethics Committees

Animal Health Australia (AHA)

Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC)

Animal Medicines Australia (AMA)

Animal Therapies Ltd (ATL)

Association of Pet Dog Trainers Australia Inc (APDT)

Australian Pet Care Association (APCA) (formerly Association of Pet Boarding and Grooming (APBG))

Australasian Animal Studies Association (AASA)

Australasian Association of Equine Dentistry (AAED)

Australasian Society of Zoo Keeping (ASZK)

Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC)

Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association (ANZLAA)

Australian Association of Pet Dog Breeders Inc (AAPDB)

Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders (AASMB)

Australian Cat Federation Inc (ACF)

Australian Horse Industry Council (AHIC)

Australian Institute of Animal Management (AIAM)

Australian National Cats Inc (ANCATS)

Australian National Kennel Council Ltd (ANKC)

Australian Pig Breeders Association Ltd (APBA)

Australian Registered Cattle Breeders' Association (ARCBA)

Australian Standardbred Breeders Association (ASBA)

Australian Stock Horse Society

Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association (ASSBA)

Australian Trainers Association (ATA)

Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)

Cat Protection Society of NSW

Companion Animal Network Australia CAN (formerly Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA))

Dog Groomers Association of Western Australia Inc (DGAWA)

Dogs Australia

Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand Inc (EIANZ)

Equestrian Australia (EA)

Equine Dental Association of Australia (EDAA)

Equine Veterinarians Australia Group

Guide Dogs Australia

Horse SA

International Association of Equine Dentistry (IAED)

National Animal Technology Educators Forum (NATEF)

National Parks Association of NSW

National Parks Association of Queensland Inc

National Parks Association of the ACT Inc

National Parks Australia Council (NPAC)

Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (NCSSA)

NSW Cat Fanciers Association Inc (NSW CFA)

NSW Marine Estate

Parks and Leisure Australia

Parks Australia

Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)

Pet Industry Association Australia (PIAA)

Pets Australia

Responsible Pet Breeders Australia (RPBA)

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA)

Taronga Zoo

Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA)

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA)

Vertebrate Pest Management Association Australia (VPMAA)

Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA)

Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA)

WA Horse Council (WAHC)

Wildlife Health Australia (WHA)

Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES)

Wildlife Victoria

WorldWide Association of Equine Dentistry (WWAED)

Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA)


Employee associations

Australian Workers Union (AWU)

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)

Professionals Australia


Regulatory bodies

ACT Veterinary Practitioners Board

Veterinary Board of Tasmania

Veterinary Board of the Northern Territory

Veterinary Practice Board Western Australia

Veterinary Practitioners Board of New South Wales

Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria

Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland

Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Industry Employment Projections viewed 1 August 2021, Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2025
    • 042 Hunting and Trapping
    • 697 Veterinary Services
    • 892 Parks and Gardens Operations.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2022, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, viewed 1 August 2022.

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2002 to 2022, May Quarter
    • 042 Hunting and Trapping
    • 697 Veterinary Services
    • 892 Parks and Gardens Operations.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 4 digit industry
    • 0191 Horse Farming.


Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the  ACM - Animal Care and Management Training Package.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2017 to 2021 program enrolments
  • 2017 to 2021 subject enrolments
  • 2017 to 2021 program completions.
Updated: 28 Nov 2022
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